Sports

Gymnastics Australia investigation finds ‘culture of abuse’

An independent Australian investigation into gymnastics says she has discovered a culture of physical, emotional and sexual abuse in gymnastics.

The Australian Human Rights Commission has found that harassment and shame are common at the elite level.

The report highlights a culture of winning at all cost and poses a risk of harm and abuse.

Gymnastics Australia, which commissioned the review last year, called the findings “positive.”

Gymnastics Australia said in a statement: ‘Gymnastics Australia apologizes unreservedly to all athletes and their families who have experienced any form of abuse.

What does the poll say?

According to the AHRC, “the gymnast population is dominated by youth and women,” creating a power imbalance between gymnasts and educators where abuse is nurtured.

“The committee found that unique aspects of gymnastics, including a very high proportion of young female athletes, helped create a high-risk environment of abuse and maintain and reinforce negative gender stereotypes and social aspirations.”

At all cost, he has found a win-win culture that reigns in sport and “poses unacceptable risks to the safety and well-being of gymnasts who are often very young.”

While many athletes have positive experiences and relationships, he says, their coaches “have continued to use authoritarian or highly disciplined practice styles.”

The AHRC said it had heard of a number of harmful behaviors, “including emotional and verbal abuse, physical and medical neglect, sexual abuse, negative weight management practices, and physical humiliation.”

“The short-term and long-term effects of these practices are reported to be out of reach, with former gymnasts and gymnasts recently trained in the 1980s, 1990s and 20s to share their experiences,” the report said.

While comprehensive, “it was not actively and consistently implemented at all levels of the campaign,” the report said, with many athletes reporting concerns about the process of investigating and reporting abuse and misconduct.

The AHRC has made five key findings and 12 recommendations, including an independent investigation into all specific allegations of abuse outside of sport.

In a statement, Gymnastics Australia thanked the committee and said it would adopt all 12 recommendations.

What led to the investigation?

Last year, dozens of former Australian gymnasts talked about the mental and physical abuse they suffered in elite American sport.

In shared stories online, some educators say they normalize a “toxic” environment.

Many said they were encouraged to talk about abuse inside USA Gymnastics after the release of the Netflix documentary “Athlete A.”

Mary-Anne Monckton, who won two silver medals at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, said she was “afraid” to share her story, but added; “At some point someone has to come out in support of athletes.”

Gold medalist Chloe Gilliland at the 2006 Commonwealth Games said she became depressed and anxious about her “peak” and left the sport for her own health at the age of 17.

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